Meet our staff:
Business Development & Marketing (DPDC)
MA in Environment and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming
MFA in Creative Writing, University of Wyoming
BA in English, Indiana University
CF in International Studies, Indiana University
(6+ years at LEAF & DPDC)
Hello friends and families! My name is Mr. Jeff and I am a licensed childcare provider in the state of Wyoming, and the program director at LEAF. I am originally from South Bend, Indiana, but a scholarship and paid teaching position led me across the country to pursue a Master’s in Creative Writing and Environment and Natural Resources at University of Wyoming in 2014.
During my time at UW, I taught English Composition, worked as a Public Relations and Marketing intern at UWyo Magazine, studied European Union environmental assessment practices in Canary Islands, Spain, and stayed at the Grand Teton National Park Research Station on an environmental writing fellowship where I completed my thesis in creative writing and systems science.
My undergraduate studies are in English Literature, Spanish Language, and International Studies at Indiana University, and my childcare and education focus is in literacy, dual-language, and social-emotional learning. I am a curious, life-long learner who loves working with kids, reading, and making art.
Upon graduation from UW in 2016, my wife and I decided to stay in Laramie and start the next chapter of our lives. We both continued to work hard, dedicating our post-academic studies to professional development in childcare and education. In June 2020, we bought our first home in Laramie, a lovely 1930’s bungalow in the downtown area. In October 2020, we had our first child, a happy little boy who loves dogs, dancing, basketball, and chasing his chickens around the yard.
In the past year, my life has become more domestic and focused on family and community. I spend the mornings playing with my son, and the weekends working around the house and going to the open-air market on Fridays. I am an avid photographer and love, hiking, birding, fishing, snowboarding, filmmaking, and writing. Above all, I am driven by the joy and duty to support the health and well-being of my family and the families and children at LEAF and DPDC.
AA in Secondary Education, Eastern Wyoming College
Hello, my name is Shae Ibarra and I am the new Assistant Coordinator for LEAF and the classroom teacher in the Falcon’s room. I was born and raised in a small town here in Wyoming. I earned my Associates degree in 2020, and I am currently taking a break in my studies. My discipline is in Elementary Education with an ESL endorsement and minor in Spanish. My future plan is to stay and teach at a dual emersion school in Albany County after my studies. Working at LEAF has helped me receive more real-life experience in the world of education. I enjoy working with the students at LEAF and I am always learning new things from them. In my free time, I like to explore the area and all it has to offer, since I haven’t been here long. My hobbies include studying Psychology and Criminology, playing with my old pup, and watching scary movies or videos.
Ricquel was born in northern Iowa, where she lived on a small farm before moving to Wyoming at seven years old. Ever since she was a little girl, Ricquel loved immersing herself in stories and putting herself in other people’s shoes. Her passion for stories grew as she realized that they provide ways to understand the world through different lenses. In her free time, she enjoys fishing, painting, cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.
Now a senior at the University of Wyoming, Ricquel studies English rhetoric and composition and the Spanish language. After graduating in May 2021, Ricquel plans to turn her Honors thesis into a full-length novel and dip her feet in several fields where she can help people develop and refine their own stories.
Hello! My name is Ellis and I am the classroom teacher in the Eagles room. I am currently 21 years old and I am from Torrington (a small town on the Wyo-Braska border). I have future plans to attend the University of Wyoming in pursuit of my Education Degree specializing in History. I currently have my Associate’s Degree and I love learning about history. In my free time, I like to read various history books (especially about ancient mythology), walk my corgi dog, and watch history documentaries.
My name is Kaeli Hernandez and I am so excited to be a part of the LEAF staff! I am currently working toward getting my degree in elementary education at UW. I am a born and raised Wyomingite from a small town in Northern Wyoming. I moved to Laramie in 2018 and love it here! I love spending time with my family, friends, and my two dogs! I can't wait to get to better know your children and see what this year brings!